Directions for South Australia – Employment

Introduction:

Article 27 of the United Nations Convention of Rights of People with Disabilities states that Governments must:

Recognise the right of persons with disabilities to work on an equal basis with others, and this right includes:

The opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible … [and] including those who acquire a disability during the course of employment.

How is it then that fewer people with a disability are participating in the workforce now than they were twenty years ago?

In fact, Australia-wide, only 53% of people who have a disability are participating in the labour market, compared to 82% of people without a disability. This unfair and inequitable situation must be fixed.

People with a disability continue to face barriers to employment.

Some of these barriers are physical; such as the need for a workplace to have ramps, adjustable desks, screen readers, or accessible toilets, but many of the barriers faced are attitudinal.

Low expectations, fear, and a view that it is acceptable to pay a person with disability far below the minimum wage are part of what builds resistance, ignorance, and prejudice from employers about hiring people with disabilities.

Gaining meaningful employment has a big positive impact on people’s overall health and wellbeing, and Governments must provide opportunities for people with a disability to work in the public sector, and encourage employment in the private sector by providing increased incentives.

Action:

Dignity Party believes that too little has been achieved by the South Australian Government, and that more must be done to increase the opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.

In South Australia we need:

— Protection for people with disability from discrimination against accessing employment at all stages, including; recruitment, hiring, continuance of employment, career advancement, and safe and healthy working environments (i.e. provide protection from harassment, bullying and exploitation);

— Equal work opportunities and equal pay for work of equal value for people with disability;

— Availability of technical and vocational guidance, continuing vocational training, support through adequate and appropriate placement services, work experience through the open labour market and ‘on-the-job’ support and training for all workers with disabilities;

— A range of employment opportunities for workers with disabilities in open employment, the private & public sector, self-employment, entrepreneurship, including the development of innovative work arrangements;

— Provision of additional opportunities through Government for employment of persons with disabilities including affirmative action programs, incentives for employers and any other appropriate measures;

— Ongoing education for managers and pro-active campaigns aimed at employing more people with disability in the public sector;

— Creation of effective programs to increase the level of disability awareness and knowledge in the community to address stereotypical assumptions and attitudes of employers about what people with disability can and cannot do.